02 SES 11 C, Challenges in Teacher Education
This paper presents results from a research study focusing on the introduction of a new compulsory teaching practice for Vocational student teachers, following the implementation of new national curriculum regulations for Norwegian Vocational teacher education introduced.
University Vocational teacher education in Norway is conducted in cooperation with Upper secondary schools where VET programmes are taught, generally organised, with two years in school followed by two years of apprenticeship. It is in these schools that student vocational teachers undertake teaching practice mentored by experienced vocational teachers.
When the new regulations for the national curriculum for Vocational teachers’ education came into force in March 2013 (KD2013) it was introduced that in addition to having teaching practice in VET Upper secondary schools the students must have at least 10 days of compulsory teaching practice in lower secondary schools. The practice placement must be mentored varied and assessed to pass or fail. Our University implemented the national reform in 2014 with the first teaching practice in lower secondary schools taking place in 2015.
The requirement for compulsory teaching practice in lower secondary schools can be regarded as the biggest and most important change in the new national curriculum.
With this as a background we have undertaken enquiries to find out more about the intentions behind, the organisation of and content of this teaching practice. The study addresses factors that both lower secondary school leaders and teacher educators consider relevant content for the 10 days teaching practice. It also addresses post graduate vocational student teachers’ experiences in the 10 days teaching practice In light of the findings the paper addresses the challenges the schools and the University have in cooperating on the practice, to ensure relevant learning for the student teacher and to meet the future demands in schools and working life.
This paper concentrates on two main research questions:
- To what extent is there correspondence between teacher educators and school leaders' understanding of relevant teaching practice for vocational student teachers in lower secondary schools?
- What are the vocational student teachers’ experiences with teaching practice in lower secondary schools?
Researchers generally agree that cooperation between university and practice areas is an essential prerequisite for relevant teacher education. However both Norwegian and international research indicate that there is still a need for closer collaboration between vocational and professional education and working life. (Dahlback, J., Hansen H., K., Haaland, G. & Sylte, A. L. (2011). OECD Learning for Jobs (2007, 2010, 2012) UNESCO TVET (2013).
More recent national and international research also points to lack of coherence between professional teacher education and the practical areas (Canrinus, Bergem, Klette & Hammerness, 2015; Hiim, 2017; Heggen & Terum, 2013). This is supported by other research in the field. Indicating that professional education needs relevance to the field of work to increase the quality of education (Billet 2014, Hiim 2016, 2017, Young, 2000).
The overall theoretical emphasis in the study is concerned with a vocational, pragmatic and comprehensive approach to professional work based learning, and experiential learning in the students’ education. (Dewy 1933, 1916, Dreyfus & Dreyfus 1986, Hiim, 2001,2016, 2017, Schön 1987). Central to this is the understanding is a broadened concept of what knowledge is (Hiim & Hippe 2001). Goodlad’s (1979) curriculum theory is used in the study to discuss the document analyses and as a framework to understand challenges the different participants understood and experienced in the introduction of the new curriculum. Amongst others the recent work Yuen & Zukas (2016) and Lloyd, & Payne, J. (2012) is significant to help understand the importance of the vocational student teachers’ roles relative to their practice.
The data in the study is based on • Document analysis of the educational reform policy documents (2013/2014). • A quantitative /qualitative questionnaire to 180 lower secondary schools in five counties. These were chosen as they were counties from which we recruited most of our students. • A quantitative /qualitative questionnaire to 29 teacher educators in our own university. • A quantitative /qualitative questionnaire to Post graduate student vocational teachers in 2015 (55 students) and 2016 (60 students) 2017 (30 students). The questionnaires were comprised of both closed questions based on a comparative scale from 1-6, where 6 is best or most important and 1 is least good or of no importance. We also used answer alternatives yes/no. There was also room from open comments to each question. (Patton, 2015). The questionnaires were explained and collected in by us electronically and were anonymous. The questionnaires with the schools and teacher educators were conducted in the spring of 2014. The student questionnaires were conducted in spring 2015 and 2016 and autumn of 2017.The students answered the questionnaire during a teaching session in the University. The students were all in their first-year study programmes. We also conducted semi-structured interviews (Kvale & Brinkmann, 2009) with 5 members of the committee who developed the new National curriculum. The interviews took place in the University, at an agreed time in the spring and autumn of 2015. Participation in both questionnaires and the interviews was conducted on a voluntary basis. All the student participants signed a consent form at the onset of the study. The quantitative data was analysed with the help of Lime Survey data programme. The qualitative data from the questionnaires were analysed and the data from the interviews was transcribed and analysed. These resulted in sub-themes under each of the main themes. We chose an interpretive approach more than inductive, which can be difficult to use within a known felt. (Hatch 2002). Emerging themes from the data collected were indexed by us, independently of each other, before the data was categorized and discussed and moderated in cooperation (Gadamer 2004). These relate to an understanding of: Curriculum intent, Professional roles and role models: mentoring: and teaching content /vocational teaching content.
The results indicate that there is a degree of consistency between teacher educators and the schools' understanding of what are relevant activities in teaching practice for the students. But at the same time a number of differences in an understanding of what is relevant content in teaching practice in lower secondary education are evident. Further there are different understandings in relation to the National curriculums intent and grounding in schools with regard to this period of teaching practice with results indicating that there was no knowledge of the education reform in the schools prior to implementation and little amongst the teacher educators in this study. In addition, there is a different understanding of the professional role of practice teachers and student, mentoring and assessment. The results also indicate that most schools are interested in offering teaching practice placement for vocational student teachers but some are not. However, results also indicate that most students have positive learning experiences in this teaching placement but that what they learn and are involved in varies greatly. The results also indicate that in some aspects the vocational student teachers see this teaching practice as more valuable than that in Upper secondary vocational teaching practice. We hope that the results from this study will contribute to a more comprehensive understanding between the university and the practical field with a view to how this teaching practice can contribute to the student teachers’ education and their pupils learning. We also hope that this paper will contribute to the discussion of how to include both vocational teachers and vocational subjects in academic lower secondary education This paper can also contribute to the International field looking at the impact of pre-vocational education in lower secondary schools in various European countries.
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